School gets grant to boost student's fitness

2013-03-01T05:30:00Z 2013-03-01T05:35:07Z School gets grant to boost student's fitnessBy ROB ROGERS rrogers@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Technotronic's "Pump Up the Jam" thumped through the gym while students from kindergarten through sixth grade raced to be first to complete a series of push-ups, sit-ups and jumping jacks.

It's all part of an after-school fitness program put on by the staff at Beartooth Elementary School after teachers there successfully wrote for a Big Sky State Games Fit Kids grant. 

"It's been great," said kindergarten teacher Celeste Peel. "It's been a fun outlet for the kids."

Peel worked with the school's P.E. teacher, Keenan Pfeifle, to go after the grant. 

The 45-minute exercise routine is rigorous, and much of it is done in Beartooth's small gym. The older students spend the last 20 minutes, when the weather cooperates, out on the field. 

Inside, the younger students play a blistering game of tag using flag football flags. 

"After that first day, I thought, 'Oh my gosh, they're never gonna come back,'" Peel said. "But they came back."

If anything, the group has only gotten bigger, which is encouraging to Principal Cheryl Malia-McCall.

Physically fit kids learn better and have healthier brains, she said. She also likes the timing. 

"It's a wonderful thing to start in the winter months," she said. 

Lisa Norby has two kids at the school. Both participate. Her children want to go because they have fun and they get to be with their friends. That means Norby doesn't have to chase them off the couch and into the backyard every afternoon.

"It's nice to have something," she said. "And it wears 'em out a little bit before they come home."

The fitness club also ties into the school's fundraiser Move-a-Thon week, which ends Saturday morning with a 5K fun run around the school. Anyone can participate and need only to sign up with the school.

Hillary Gnerer teaches second grade and has been heavily involved with the after-school Fit Kids program. She's been working with Granite Fitness, which agreed to donate 90 jump ropes to the school.

"We were thrilled," she said. "They were more than happy to get involved."

Sixth graders Zachary Schacht and Caleb Rademaker love doing the after-school exercise routines. As friends, it gives them a chance to hang out and play around. 

"We're having some fun," Caleb said.

"Especially on these nice, cool days," Zachary added. 

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